#astronomy 30 years later, Voyager 2’s flyby of Neptune nonetheless thrills – Astronomy Now

August 23, 2019 - Comment

Thirty years in the past, on 25 August 1989, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew previous Neptune, beaming again the primary, and to this point solely, close-up footage of the large planet, its tenuous ring system and a number of moons, together with its largest satellite tv for pc Triton. It was the ultimate flyby in


Thirty years in the past, on 25 August 1989, NASA’s Voyager 2 spacecraft flew previous Neptune, beaming again the primary, and to this point solely, close-up footage of the large planet, its tenuous ring system and a number of moons, together with its largest satellite tv for pc Triton. It was the ultimate flyby in a “Grand Tour” of the outer photo voltaic system that carried Voyager 1 previous Jupiter, Saturn and the ringed planet’s enigmatic moon Titan whereas Voyager 2 added Uranus and Neptune to the checklist. This spectacular picture of Neptune reveals an enormous storm system dubbed the Nice Darkish Spot that has since disappeared.

Neptune, as imaged by the Voyager 2 spacecraft from a distance of seven million kilometres (four.four million miles), 4 days and 20 hours earlier than closest strategy on 25 August 1989. Picture: NASA/JPL

5 hours after passing over Neptune’s north polar area, Voyager 2 raced previous Triton in some of the shocking moments of the encounter. The spacecraft’s cameras revealed a geologically energetic world with darkish smears indicating geysers of nitrogen fuel and mud spewing as much as eight kilometres (5 miles) above the icy crust. Voyager 2’s images of Triton prompted gasps amongst researchers and house reporters alike when first unveiled.

A color mosaic of Neptune’s moon Triton as imaged by Voyager 2. Picture: NASA/JPL

“The Voyager planetary program actually was a possibility to indicate the general public what science is all about,” mentioned Ed Stone, a professor of physics at Caltech and Voyager’s undertaking scientist for the previous 44 years. “Day-after-day we discovered one thing new.”

Each Voyagers have now left the photo voltaic system, nonetheless sending again information about particles and fields within the interstellar atmosphere. On the time of the Neptune flyby three a long time in the past, Voyager 2 was about four.7 billion kilometres from Earth (2.9 billion miles). It’s now 18 billion kilometres out (11 billion miles).



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